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The appearance of the edition for the current year of this excellent book on federal taxes, with both a much larger page than, and almost twice the number of pages of, the substantial first edition of 1920, serves to call attention anew to the unfortunate intricacies and complexities of our federal revenue system. The vastness of the government's taxing business is well-nigh appalling and since the governing law is capable of such varying interpretations, with slight variations affecting even single taxpayers into the thousands of dollars, the task of interpretation and administration seems rather to increase than diminish in difficulty with the passage of time. Rulings grow on top of rulings until the basic foundation of law is entirely hidden. Thus for example, the Revenue Acts of i918 and i92i did not expressly exempt from taxation income received from a state or its subdivisions. Since, however, the Supreme Court in what is thought to be an entirely unsound conclusion, has clearly intimated that such income cannot be taxed by the federal government [Evans v. Gore (1920) 253 U.S. 245, 40 Sup. Ct. 550, criticised in Comments (1920) 30 Yale Law Journal, 75], it has been ruled that such income is exempt under the present laws. But this ruling is in turn limited by a ruling that the exemption applies to income received only by an officer or employee of the state or its subdivision. And hence the government holds that the fees of a state court juryman or of a New Hampshire deputy sheriff are exempt, while the fees of witnesses summoned by a state attorney and of a special counsel to a municipality are taxable. (Holmes, 458-460.) In the light of the existing situation, while we may deplore the necessity, we must be highly grateful for the industry which gives us each year new editions of the standard income tax treatises, of which this is one.

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Book Review: Federal Income Tax, 32 Yale Law Journal 749 (1923)

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